By Mike Lillis - 03/12/13 03:42 PM EDT
Senate Democrats were quick to join the chorus, with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) accusing Republicans of offering "more tax breaks for the wealthy, an end to Medicare as we know it and draconian cuts to education and other programs that help America’s economy grow and prosper."
"It's everything but balanced," Reid said on the chamber floor.
Released Tuesday, Ryan's 2014 budget plan would balance the budget over 10 years by cutting $5.7 trillion in projected spending, scaling back Medicare benefits to people currently younger than 55 and reducing federal outlays to 19.1 percent of the economy by 2023, down from 22.2 percent now.
Under the plan, those who turn 65 years old in 2024 and beyond could opt into private insurance coverage, in lieu of Medicare, and receive "premium support" payments from the federal government. The provision is very similar to the one included in Ryan's 2013 budget, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would push thousands of dollars of new costs on seniors.
Republicans defended the plan this week, arguing that Medicare spending is unsustainable and the program needs an overhaul.
“The other side will demagogue this issue. But remember: Anyone who attacks our Medicare proposal without offering a credible alternative is complicit in the program's demise,” Ryan said Monday.
Ryan's proposal would also hike defense spending by $500 billion over a decade and lower the top tax rate from 39.6 to 25 percent.
"We don't think it's fair to take more from hard-working families to spend more in Washington," Ryan said Tuesday in introducing the plan.
Behind Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Senate Democrats are expected to propose a competing budget proposal later in the week — their first in four years.
Unlike Ryan’s proposal, the Democratic plan is expected to include tax increases.